Gang­ster wrap

Po­lice found that huge pay­ments for ke­bab meat did not add up

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - News - Awatkins@cb­news.es

By Alex Watkins A MONEY laun­der­ing net­work that used a ke­bab meat sup­plier as a front com­pany has been dis­man­tled by the Guardia Civil with sup­port from Europol.

Five peo­ple have been ar­rested and 15 oth­ers are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Ali­cante and Barcelona as part of oper­a­tion ‘Doner Halal’.

A Europol spokesman in­formed that Guardia Civil of­fi­cers at Barcelona-El Prat air­port first started in­ves­ti­gat­ing weekly ship­ments of large quan­ti­ties of money to Ger­many in 2015.

These ranged from €90,000 to €200,000 (and on oc­ca­sion up to €300,000), and were jus­ti­fied to the air­port au­thor­i­ties as pay­ments from Span­ish com­pa­nies to a Ger­man com­pany for ke­bab meat.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that the Span­ish com­pa­nies did not even run real com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, and the crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tion had built up a net­work of front com­pa­nies for money laun­der­ing since 2012.

“It is pos­si­ble that some com­pa­nies were not even aware that their data was be­ing used to jus­tify false in­voices,” he noted.

The Span­ish au­thor­i­ties es­ti­mate that around €36 mil­lion has been trans­ferred and laun­dered by the crim­i­nal net­work.

Europol has sup­ported the in­ves­ti­ga­tion since 2017 by pro­vid­ing an­a­lyt­i­cal and op­er­a­tional sup­port, car­ry­ing out data anal­y­sis and cross match re­port­ing.

The Guardia Civil blocked 36 bank ac­counts and fi­nan­cial prod­ucts and 35 credit cards and seized five prop­er­ties in Ali­cante prov­ince worth ap­prox­i­mately €470,000.

“This in­ves­ti­ga­tion shows once again that crim­i­nal busi­ness is still largely done in cash,” ex­plained Si­mon Rion­det, head of fi­nan­cial in­tel­li­gence at Europol.

“Pro­fes­sional money laun­der­ing syn­di­cates of­fer cash­courier and com­pen­sa­tion laun­der­ing ser­vices for il­licit pro­ceeds.”

Mr Riodet said op­er­a­tions such as this ‘re­in­force the need to dis­con­tinue the pro­duc­tion and cir­cu­la­tion of €500 and €200 ban­knotes and set an EUwide frame­work for re­strict­ing or set­ting a com­mon limit for cash pay­ments’.

Ter­ra­cotta Army on the move to Ali­cante?

Cash which was seized from the gang

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